AHWiki:Dealing with vandalism

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Vandalism is any addition, removal, or change of content made in a deliberate attempt to compromise the integrity of AHWiki. The most common types of vandalism include the addition of obscenities or crude humor, page blanking, or the insertion of nonsense into articles.

Any good-faith effort to improve AHWiki, even if misguided or ill-considered, is not vandalism. Even harmful edits that are not explicitly made in bad faith are not considered vandalism. For example, adding a personal opinion to an article once is not vandalism — it's just not helpful, and should be removed or restated. Not all vandalism is obvious, nor are all massive or controversial changes vandalism. Careful attention needs to be given to whether changes made are beneficial, detrimental but well intended, or outright vandalism.

Committing vandalism violates AHWiki policy. If you find that another user has vandalized AHWiki, you should revert the changes and warn the user (see below for specific instructions). Users who vandalize AHWiki repeatedly, despite warnings to stop, should be reported to administrators who may block them. Note that warning is not an absolute prerequisite for blocking; accounts whose main or only use is obvious vandalism or other forbidden activity may be blocked without warning.

How to respond to vandalism

If you see vandalism, please do the following:

  1. Check the article's page history to identify all vandalism edits. Usually, if the most recent edit by a particular user is vandalism, then all recent edits by that user are also vandalism. It is then necessary to revert to the last version before that user started editing. It is also prudent to compare a substantially earlier (unvandalized) version with the current, as editors may have missed a substantial deletion (a whole paragraph or section) followed by a rude remark. A novice editor may have then simply edited the remark out without checking the history. A reversion to that point followed by re-insertion of non-trivial edits may be appropriate or the missing section may be moved via cut-and-paste operations within your browser.
    1. For a new article, if all versions of the article are pure vandalism, then delete it.
    2. Otherwise, "revert" the edits. If you are viewing the "diff" between the current version and the preceding version, you can click "undo" to undo the edit automatically. Otherwise, please explain in the "edit summary" that you have reverted vandalism.
  2. Check the user's other contributions (click "User contributions" on the left sidebar of the screen). If most or all of these are obvious vandalism, you may decide to report the user immediately.
  3. If appropriate, leave a warning message on the user's talk page

How not to respond to vandalism

Do not feed the trolls. Not fanning the fire will, at the very least, not make the situation worse. If the behavior escalates, it is easy to deal with those things.

Do not nominate an article for deletion because it is being vandalized. That's like throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and simply encourages vandalism further.

Do not insult the vandals. If someone is doing something they know is wrong, insulting them over it is likely to make them vandalize more, just to get that reaction.

Avoid the word "vandal". In particular, the word should not be used in reference to any contributor in good standing or to any edits that can arguably be construed as good-faithed. If the edits in question are made in good faith, they are not vandalism. Instead of calling a person making such edits a "vandal", discuss his or her specific edits with him or her. Comment on the content and substance of his or her edits or arguments, not his or her person.


Note: Do not use these templates in content disputes; instead, write a clear message explaining your disagreement.

Types of vandalism

AHWiki vandalism may fall into one or more of the following categorizations:

Type Description
Blanking Removing all or significant parts of pages' content without any reason, or replacing entire pages with nonsense. Sometimes important verifiable references are deleted with no valid reason(s) given in the summary. However, significant content removals are usually not considered to be vandalism where the reason for the removal of the content is readily apparent by examination of the content itself, or where a non-frivolous explanation for the removal of apparently legitimate content is provided, linked to, or referenced in an edit summary.

An example of blanking edits that could be legitimate would be edits that blank all or part of a biography of a living person. HiTech Creations is especially concerned about providing accurate and non-biased information on the living, and this may be an effort to remove inaccurate or biased material.

Page lengthening Adding very large (measured by the number of bytes) amounts of content to a page so as to make the page's load time abnormally long or even make the page impossible to load on some computers.
Spam Continuing to add external links to non-notable or irrelevant sites (e.g. to advertise one's website) to pages after having been warned is vandalism.

[ Vandalbot

A script or "robot" that attempts to vandalize or spam massive numbers of articles (hundreds or thousands).
Silly vandalism Adding profanity, graffiti, random characters, or other nonsense to pages; creating nonsensical and obviously non-encyclopedic pages, etc. Please note that the addition of random characters to pages is a common way that new users test edit and may not be intentionally malicious.
Sneaky vandalism Vandalism that is harder to spot. This can include adding plausible misinformation to articles, (e.g. minor alteration of dates), hiding vandalism (e.g. by making two bad edits and only reverting one), or reverting legitimate edits with the intent of hindering the improvement of pages. Some vandals even use edit summaries such as "rv vandalism" to mask their changes.
Userspace vandalism Adding insults, profanity, etc. to user pages or user talk pages.
Image vandalism Uploading shock images, inappropriately placing explicit images on pages, or simply using any image in a way that is disruptive.
Page-move vandalism Changing the names of pages (referred to as "page-moving") to disruptive or otherwise inappropriate terms. AHWiki now only allows registered users active for at least four days to move pages.
Link vandalism Modifying internal or external links within a page so that they appear the same but link to a page/site that they are not intended to (e.g an explicit image; a shock site).
Modifying users' comments Editing other users' comments to substantially change their meaning (e.g. turning someone's vote around), except when removing a personal attack (which is somewhat controversial in and of itself). Signifying that a comment is unsigned is an exception. Please also note that correcting other users' typos is discouraged.
Discussion page vandalism Blanking the posts of other users from talk pages other than your own, AHWiki space, and other discussions, aside from removing internal spam, vandalism, etc., is generally considered vandalism. An obvious exception is moving posts to a proper place. Removing personal attacks]] is often considered legitimate, and it is considered acceptable to archive an overly long talk page by creating an archive page and moving the text from the main talk page there. Note: The above rules do not apply to a user's own talk page. Editors are granted considerable latitude over editing their own userspace pages (including talk pages), and blanking one's own user talk page is specifically not prohibited.
Repeated uploading of copyrighted material Uploading or using material on AHWiki in ways which violate copyright after having been warned is vandalism. Because users may be unaware that the information is copyrighted, or of AHWiki policies on how such material may and may not be used, such action only becomes vandalism if it continues after the copyrighted nature of the material and relevant policy restricting its use have been communicated to the user.
Malicious account creation Creating accounts with usernames that contain deliberately offensive or disruptive terms is considered vandalism, whether the account is used or not.
Edit summary vandalism Making offensive edit summaries in an attempt to leave a mark that cannot be easily expunged from the record (edit summaries cannot simply be "reverted" and remain visible when viewing a page's history). Often combined with malicious account creation.
Hidden vandalism Any form of vandalism that makes use of embedded text, which is not visible to the final rendering of the article but visible during editing.

What vandalism is not

Although at times incorrectly referred to as such, the following things are not considered "vandalism" and are therefore treated differently:

Type Description
Tests by experimenting users New users who discover the "edit this page" button sometimes want to experience editing a page and may add something unhelpful to a page (e.g., a few random characters) as a test. Such edits are not done in bad faith and are therefore not vandalism. Rather than be warned for vandalism, these users should be warmly greeted, and given a reference to the sandbox where they can continue to make test edits without being unintentionally disruptive. If a user has made a test edit and then reverted it, consider placing the message on their talk page. Registered users can create their own sandbox as well.
Using incorrect wiki markup]] and manual of style Inexperienced users often are unfamiliar with AHWiki's formatting and grammatical standards (e.g. how to create internal and/or external links, when certain words should be bolded or italicized, etc.) Rather than label such users as vandals, just explain to them what our standard style is on the issue.
Making bold edits Editrors/Users often make sweeping changes to pages in order to improve them—most of us aim to be bold when updating articles. While having large chunks of text you've written removed or substantially rewritten can be frustrating, simply making edits that noticeably alter the text or content of a pages should not be immediately labeled vandalism.
Unintentional misinformation Sometimes a user will add content to an article that is factually inaccurate, but in the belief that it is accurate. By doing so in good faith, they are trying to contribute to the encyclopedia and improve it rather than vandalize. If you believe inaccurate information has been added to an article in good faith, ensure that it is, and/or discuss its factuality with the user who has submitted it.
Unintentional nonsense While intentionally adding nonsense to pages is a form of vandalism, sometimes honest editors may not have expressed themselves correctly (there may be an error in the syntax, particularly for editors who use English as a second language. Also, sometimes connection errors or edit conflict unintentionally produce the appearance of nonsense or malicious edits. In either case, assume good faith.
Stubbornness Some users cannot come to agreement with others who are willing to talk to them about an editing issue, and repeatedly make changes opposed by everyone else.. Repeated deletion or addition of material is not nexxessarily "vandalism" and should not be dealt with as such.
Harassment or personal attacks We have a clear policy on no personal attacks, and harassing other contributors is not allowed. While some forms of harassment are also clear cases of vandalism, such as user page vandalism, or inserting a personal attack into an article, harassment in itself is not considered "vandalism" and should be handled differently.
Policy/guideline/essay/other project namespace page alteration Editors are encouraged to be bold. Making edits to AHWiki policy pages (such as this one), guideline pages, etc. does require some knowledge of the consensus on that issue. If people misjudge consensus, this is not vandalism. Rather, it's an opportunity to discuss with those people, and get them to understand the consensus.

If a user treats situations which are not clear vandalism as such, then it is he or she who is actually harming the encyclopedia by alienating or driving away potential editors.

How to spot vandalism

The best way to detect vandalism is through recent changes patrolling, using the recent changes link to spot articles with edits that had come from IP addresses, or keeping an eye on your watchlist. The what links here pages for Insert text, Link title, Headline text, and Bold text are also good places to find many test edits and/or vandalism. Any vandalism found should be reverted to an earlier version of the page; remember to include any good edits that have happened since then!